Yesterday I called my mom like I do everyday. Sometimes it’s once, sometimes it’s twice and sometimes it multiple times. Sometimes I have something to tell her, sometimes I just want to say hello, sometimes I just want to check in and see what she’s up to; no matter what the reason I like to touch base with her. Yesterday I called and she was volunteering for Hospice, like she has done for as long as I can remember.
I have always said that my mom buys packages of sympathy cards like some people buy thank you cards. Ever since I was living under her roof I remember my mom always taking care of someone much older than herself and when those friends came to the end of their life on earth, she would then find someone else to take care of. While each friend left a lasting impression on her Jewell was my all time favorite. She treated me like a grand-daughter and prayed for good grades, safe travels back and forth from college and once even told me she was praying I would find a good boyfriend! After years of bad ones Jewell’s prayer was finally answered when I met Tom; I’m sure she would approve and love his accent.
My mom always connected with each of these friends and had such a healthy view of their passing; really knowing how to take care of them in their final days. I call these individuals her friends because I’m sure each and every one of them would call my mom their friend.
Over the years I witnessed my mom take care of 4 people who truly meant the world to me; my biological grandparents. I was very lucky, my grandparents all got to see me turn 30, they were all married for over 60 years and they all loved their grandchildren and great-grandchildren very much; actually one may say we were a bit spoiled.
As my grandparents health started to fail, first my Grandma Dieter, then Grandpa Dieter (both before Anna was born), then Grandpa Philbin and finally my Grandma Philbin, we (my brothers and I) watched as my parents did what they could to make sure they were taken care of in their own homes. We never went to a nursing home to visit them, only to their houses which, if I close my eyes and take a deep breath I can not only see but smell all of its goodness, it is that ingrained into my being.
My mom, even though at times totally overwhelmed with the duties as caregiver, made sure each of my Grandparents had what they needed in their last days on earth; lots of love. Selflessly my parents put their own needs aside for this season and demonstrated to us some very valuable lessons. Lessons you don’t read about in books but rather have to be witnessed.
So, when I called my mom yesterday and she was volunteering for Hospice I couldn’t help but think that the peace I have of my girls transition from this earth to eternity was grounded not only in my love for God but also in the foundation my mom laid so many years ago. She taught us to appreciate death in a way that celebrated life.
My mom can often be found at her parents “condominium” at Greenhaven Cemetary, talking to them and looking at their pictures which are beautifully displayed where their bodies were laid to rest, just like I, her daughter, can be found often at a tree outside my house, talking to my girls.
Parents are supposed to go to Heaven before their children and in my life this is not the reality. I know that growing up as my mother’s daughter and witnessing her strength when it comes to death has given me strength. I have learned a lot from my mom, all very important lessons, but as I now reflect, this has been one of the most valuable.
I know your reading this mom and just as you are proud of me I am proud of you! Thank you for teaching me that death doesn’t have to be the end of our love. You have taught me so much through the years and I know that I have not told you enough how much you mean to me. Thank you for loving my kids with all your heart just like Grandma loved us. Our love drenched life is definitely hereditary. I Love You!